T-Mobile customers in Tampa ‘dead zone’ fear lack of service during emergencies

T-Mobile customers in one Tampa neighborhood are fed up after months of dropped calls and spotty service and many are wondering if the company ever plans to address the problem. 

"It's so weird. We leave this seven-block pocket of our neighborhood and cell service is fine, five bars across the top and it says 5G LTE, but as soon as I come home it drops down to one. I have to stand outside on my porch to use the phone," said Hampton Terrace neighbor Ilkania Fernandes. 

In an age where many homes no longer have landlines, neighbors in the affected area are worried they won't be able to call for help in the event of an emergency. One Seminole Heights resident, who wished to be identified only by his first name, said that's exactly what happened to him. 

"The worst experience I’ve had is that I tried to call 911 to report an accident coming off of 275 at Hillsborough and it wouldn’t even connect. I tried four times," said John. "At that point, we had a landline installed as we realized that if there was an emergency at home, we wouldn’t be able to rely on our mobile coverage."

Despite months of repeated calls to customer service, neighbors say the problem still persists and they're unable to get answers on why it's happening or how long they can expect their neighborhood to remain a dead zone.

"They just they give you the same runaround. Well, you know, there's a disruption of service, or they talk about the construction, or they talk about one thing or the other," said Brian Frey, a realtor who relies on his cellphone to conduct business. 

Frey says he switched from Verizon to T-Mobile to save money, but after two months he'd switched back to Verizon. 

"It was horrible. It was just horrible. The calls were dropping all over the place. I couldn't hear people on the other end of the phone. It just kept getting worse and worse," said Frey. 

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The source of the issue remains unclear. While some customers report T-Mobile representatives have cited road construction on nearby I-275 as the issue, others believe the problem started well before the expansion project began this spring. 

"We always get the same excuse that they're working on towers," said Fernandes. "Well, they've worked on the towers for the past year and there's still no improvement." 

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Greg Barber says after two months of calls a customer service representative gave him a P.O. Box address in New Mexico where he could send a letter to someone higher up in the company that might be able to help him. 

"I find it a little odd and clunky that I have to use snail mail to voice this concern and that there is not an email address that I could use for faster service," Barber wrote in a letter dated May 31. 

Barber has yet to receive a response. 

Fox 13 reached out to T-Mobile's public relations department. Although we were thanked for bringing the issue to their attention and promised a prompt response, we have yet to hear back.